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Pay attention to dangerous ‘shadow IT’

August 06, 2018

Shadow IT is a term used to describe technology used by employees without the explicit approval of a business. In some cases, this isn’t a big deal—someone installs iTunes or Spotify on their laptop so they can listen to music at work. No sweat. However, when it comes to backup, shadow IT can pose serious challenges.  

Most businesses today have some sort of server backup solution in place. However, endpoint backup is often left to employees. Some of them back up to external hard drives. Others might opt for a cloud-based service like Dropbox or Apple Time Machine. Many forego backup altogether. All of these rogue practices need to be addressed—and there’s some simple ways to prevent ‘shadow IT’ from creeping into your workplace.  

The problem with shadow IT   

Let’s say 50 employees take regular backups of their company issued laptops, using a variety of different media. That means you’ve got corporate data in 50 different locations, some of which are completely offline. What happens if one of those employees leaves the company? You’ve got a pool of data out in the world that you IT team can’t access. Now, multiply that by 50. If any of that data is subject to regulatory compliance guidelines (it probably is), you’ve got no way to ensure that it is properly protected.   

Developing an endpoint protection strategy can eliminate this issue. Today’s endpoint protection products take frequent backups to cloud or onsite storage. This ensures that data is protected in a centralized location, giving IT oversight of business data. Additionally, many endpoint protection products offer security features that limit the risk of data falling into the wrong hands. Look for a product that offers encryption in flight and at rest as well as remote lock or wipe capabilities.    Additionally, some endpoint protection products go beyond data protection, offering features that increase employee productivity. For example, some products give you access to backed up files from any Internet-connected device, including your smartphone. This can be valuable to employees, especially those who travel frequently. Look for an endpoint protection product that maintains the folder structure on your laptop and offers robust search capabilities.   

Out of the shadows   

If your business doesn’t have an endpoint protection strategy in place, it is almost certain that shadow IT is at play. If you leave data protection to employees, they will make and store copies of files wherever they see fit. And, your IT team won’t have any idea where that information lives, let alone be able to retrieve it. Deploying a business-class endpoint backup product that stores corporate data in a centralized location is the best way to eliminate shadow IT.  

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